August 2014

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« Public Policy and Refractory Reality | Main | Diane Coyle -- She is Sure One Enlightened Economist »


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Yes! I would love to read the essay.

There is a sense in the land that economics needs to change. However, too much of this discussion is mixed up with the alleged ideological consequences of the standard rational choice approach. The assumption seems to be that if economics were better in some way (more "behavorial"?) that it would be less friendly to markets, more concerned about ethics -- and then all would be well. But shouldn't the first step be in the direction of exploring the explanatory value of different approach without regard to ideology? Shouldn't people be encouraged to examine and challenge the dogmas of scientism?

I really resent the INET people casting the need for diversity in economic thought backwards from conclusions to what methods can justify them. Economics will never be completely friendly to any one world-view but at least we can open the door really widely to different approaches.

I agree with Prof. Rizzo that ideology is too tied to methodology. People know the conclusions they want to find and search for the methodology that supports it. All "sides" are guilty, but the leftist heterodox people have the attention right now. Real diversity comes from diverse methodology, not diverse conclusion.

As a current student, I know the pressure to swim and not stir things up. To stir things up, you need to know how to swim with the rest of the profession. All of the external pressure is, especially in the short run, to stop at swimming and avoid stirring things up.

However, that is not the goal. Who wants to just swim? If I wanted to just get by, why wouldn't I stay in the private sector with shorter hours and better pay? Economists have an awesome job and an opportunity to stir things up. It will be a shame if all this work is just to get by with swimming. I don't know how to get around it, but those are the pressures modern students face.

If you have any advice Prof. Boettke on how to make sure you are stirring things up and not just swimming, I would love to hear it. For now, I will try to make my swimming strokes a little more violent, maybe stir things up.

If economics were in fact more concerned about ethics -- outcomes rather than good intentions -- it would be much friendlier to markets.


For the time being, I would stir things up by asking tough questions. Some professors will not take kindly to this, however, because they want to push on with the material and -- dare I say it -- with the indoctrination process. You will have to use your judgment.

Thanks Prof. Rizzo. I will try my best without irritating too many people. In Prof. Block's recent post of grad school, he suggested not challenging professors on fundamental stuff. I've noticed it is not appreciated by professors to challenge utilitarianism during lectures... Any thoughts?

There is a difference in tone between challenging professors on the basic material and asking probing questions. If you notice that they cannot satisfactorily answer you, then you will have learned something about the weaknesses of standard analysis. If you ask with an air of good-natured inquiry you will be okay.

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